Thanks for the tag, @HAWK. I have simply followed some of FeverBee’s advice (Hawk sent me a link with some suggestions in engagement, or perhaps she just gave me a search term?). I haven’t been the best at following FeverBee suggestions as I’m working on a fee-based project attached to my community.
One thing that works for engagement is seeking out your core members (10 or so). I’ve found that these 10 change (my group is only at 70 right now, and hosted on Facebook). Actually, I’ll have to look over who I see as my core… it may only be around 5 to 7 right now who are active. Anyhow, these are those who ‘agree’ to be in on making the group a success. You ask them to comment, to welcome new members, to post, etc. I’ve sent private messages to people before asking for their comment on a particular thread (hmm… where have I seen that, before?).
Is your group paid or free? I’ve found that a fee-based group lends itself to greater engagement than free. Maybe it’s because of the competition factor you mentioned. Maybe it’s because they are making an investment. As well, they know the others in the community have also made an investment. Perhaps it’s because in free groups, biz owners tend to want to appear they have all the answers and don’t need any help. After all, what if someone else in the group wanted to become their customer? (I wonder if I do this in others’ groups? Human nature shows it’s the case in the biz groups I belong to). So, if you’re group is free, consider a fee-based group for those who want to let their hair down a bit more.
Other thoughts on engagement:
Don’t just send out content and hope others jump in and comment on a topic or an article. I see many people killing themselves putting out two or three articles a DAY with a new community, and there’s no engagement (again, having that core group to jump in, sometimes even one or two people commenting are enough to break the ice and get others going. Instant message someone and ASK them for their opinion. People like to give their opinions (not me, mind you… other people).
Have you ASKED people why they don’t engage? Did many members tell you that they don’t engage because they don’t want to help their competition? I’m having a hard time believing this and wonder if there are assumptions being made (can I talk straight like this? Knowing that I don’t know? Perhaps you did discuss this in depth or took a survey). People like to feel smart and they like to share their opinions. But they also want to feel safe before they’ll do that, and that they are among friends. This is our job, to help create a safe, friendly environment in our communities.
More on this: I would suggest you not assume that engagement is “the hardest part for this particular market.” It’s not. Thinking that will flavor your own posts and interactions. Find out what gets people to respond. I don’t like a lot of self-promotion, but some is healthy. I like to find creative ways to let biz owners share a link or talk about what they do. I post these in Themed Posts and label them as being ok to contain a link. Self-promo can kill a group, but biz owners have a natural tendency to want to tell others about their biz. I make sure I have a few posts each week where people can show off, but I’m strict in deleting posts and communicating with individuals who self-promote outside of these threads.
SIDE NOTE: [ On creating a safe and engaging environment: I offer people the opportunity to share their own Facebook Page about once each week, and another post I allow people to share their own Facebook GROUP! I saw somebody else doing this (it’s a rare thing) and I instantly trusted the admin. She believed in her own value, and was letting me, helping me, build up my own projects. ]
In getting people to ask for help (opening up) AND offering a creative way to self promote, I started a Feedback thread that posts each week. People can talk about what they are working on while getting a second set of eyes on their copy, or landing page, or biz proposal. Some weeks this works, others it gets ignored. It’s ok.
I’m also trying not to hover (helicopter parenting). When people DO open up, I like, no, I LOVE to offer advice (you couldn’t tell by my comments here, right?). But if someone else has jumped on board, I may simply LIKE their comments, and let it go, or ask others to chime in who have correlating experience, or private message someone and ask them to participate. But if I am always there and ready to jump in with answers, people may feel intimidated to even ask. Maybe they think I’m selling something (I’m not), maybe it’s too much attention by the guy at the top? Whatever psychology is going on, I just learned that if I’m everywhere to everyone, it’s kind of creepy. I don’t want to be creepy.
Ok. I’m done rambling. @HAWK, I think I just made up for not being in the FeverB comm for awhile. My fingers are tired.
@katelynrae, my best to you. I’m no expert, but I’m happy to share what’s working/not working, and I’m pretty decent at coming up with ideas to solve problems. Let me know if I can help in any way.